Avoid foodborne illness when entertaining

Enjoy your party and keep everyone from developing foodborne illness by keeping food safety in mind as you entertain.

Holiday parties, graduation parties and other events where family and friends join together for food and fun are just around the corner. Keep foodborne illnesses away from your special time by following the four steps of clean, separate, chill and cook which are recommended by FightBac when you are preparing food for a crowd.

First, keep everything clean including hands, counter tops, utensils, dishes and anything else that will touch food. Wash hands in hot, soapy water for 20 seconds before preparing food and after touching raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs.

Next, keep raw foods that will be cooked such as meats, poultry, eggs and fish away from ready-to-eat foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, prepared cold salads and any other foods that will not be cooked before serving. When shopping, place items from the meat department in plastic bags provided by the supermarket before placing the food into your shopping cart. Keep these items away from your other foods. In the refrigerator, store ready-to-eat foods above raw foods to be cooked to prevent drippings from falling into them.

Keep cold foods chilled. Return home directly after grocery shopping or place food into a cooler to keep it cold until you can get them home. Put away the groceries immediately upon arriving home. Do not let perishable foods remain out of refrigeration for longer than a total of two hours total before foods are consumed, even when preparing foods. If foods will be on the serving table for longer than two hours in cooler weather or one hour in hot weather, place the food platters on ice to help keep the food cold. Change serving plates when refilling the buffet table and put away food as soon as everyone is done eating.

It is important to cook fare to minimum internal temperatures using a food thermometer to determine if the item is done. Guidelines to proper food temperatures can be found at FightBac website. Keep hot foods heated on the serving table by using chafing dishes, hot plates or other equipment designed to keep food hot. Stir foods to keep the heat evenly distributed. Provide clean utensils for serving your foods. Change them at least every two hours.

With a little extra care, you can have a great party and keep family and friends safe from foodborne illness! For more information on food safety, visit FightBac or Michigan State University Extension.

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